Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Workers at Mississippi Nissan Plant Casting Ballots on Union

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Workers at Mississippi Nissan Plant Casting Ballots on Union

Article excerpt

CANTON, Miss. * Workers at a Nissan assembly plant in Mississippi have voted against forming a union, adding to decades of futility by United Auto Workers organizers at foreign-owned auto plants in the American South.

A spokeswoman for Nissan Motor Co. said late Friday that the union lost a pivotal vote by 3,700 eligible workers. Nissan says the final vote total was 2,244 to 1,307 against the union.

The UAW has never fully organized an international automaker in the traditionally anti-union South, although it did persuade some maintenance workers to join at a Volkswagen AG plant in Tennessee. The UAW's lack of influence among southern auto workers has reduced its bargaining power when Detroit automakers lose market share and close plants. After pouring resources into the organizing drive at Nissan, this loss could leave UAW leaders with tough decisions.

"The result of the election was a setback for these workers, the UAW and working Americans everywhere, but in no way should it be considered a defeat," UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement.

UNFAIR PRACTICES CHARGED

The union filed seven new charges with the National Labor Relations Board just before polls closed Friday alleging that Nissan had broken federal labor laws during the campaign. If the labor board rules in favor of the charges, the board could order a fresh election. Among the claims: Nissan provided a faulty contact list to the union, it caused a contract worker to be fired because of his union support, and a manager told workers on July 28 they would lose benefits if they voted for a union.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel had telegraphed the move Monday, when he alleged illegal activity by the company and said that if the union lost, it would be a "direct result of the unlawful behavior."

Nissan spokeswoman Parul Bajaj said the company lived up to its obligations in providing the list. She generally denied the other charges.

The labor board has already issued a complaint against Nissan alleging other labor law violations that predate the election, but a judge has yet to rule on those. …

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